Backed by a two-goal third period, the Tri-City Storm rallied past the Lincoln Stars 3-2 in the final minutes Wednesday at the Ice Box.
It was an evenly played game until nearly the end. But the Stars were called for back-to-back penalties in the final five minutes to give Tri-City a 5-on-3 advantage. The Storm caught the Stars off-guard during a line change and Adam Goodsir scored the go-ahead goal with 3 minutes, 17 seconds left.
“I thought it was a good game both ways,” Stars coach Cody Chupp said. “Two good hockey teams, fairly matched throughout the game and when we did things right, we had success with a couple breakdowns.
“It's frustrating that it ends up being a 5-on-3 late in the game that ends up being the difference. We have to learn from it. The nice thing is we get another chance to go back out and prove ourselves a couple days from now, and that is our focus starting now.”
Casey Dornbach continued his hot streak for the Stars with eight points in his last four games, including both Stars goals Wednesday.
Dornbach gave the Stars a 1-0 lead 6:20 into the second period, and after the Storm knotted the score moments later, Dornbach struck again on a breakaway with a goal over Detroit Red Wings draft pick Filip Larsson.
“With him, I think he is one of the most consistent guys we have as far as his work ethic and what he shows up to do every single day,” Chupp said of Dornbach. “It's the funny thing about confidence; when one goes all in, you start to grip (the stick) a little less tight and you have a little more confidence around the net.”
In the Harvard commit's past three games, he has four goals and two assists.
“Playing with two really high-quality players (Paul Cotter and Ashton Calder) and things are just kind of clicking,” Dornbach said of his linemates. “I've kind of gained a little confidence and trust in myself. Hoping to keep going.”
Despite the loss, the Stars have proved something on the ice in arguably the toughest stretch of their schedule. In the past two games, the Stars have faced the top two teams in the Western Conference of the USHL, including a 3-0 win over the league's top team, Fargo, last Friday. When the Stars resume play on Friday, they'll face the top team in the East in the Chicago Steel.
“Guys are just stepping up,” Stars veteran forward Collin Peters said. “When guys are getting injuries, and like when I was gone, guys were stepping up and that is a big part of that.
“You just kind of have take a little extra weight on your shoulder and give it your best.”
Peters returned to the ice for the first time in nearly a month, while teammates Austen Long and Dominick Mersch were out of Wednesday's contest due to injuries.
Lincoln plays twice this weekend, starting at Chicago at 7 p.m. on Friday, before playing at Muskegon on Saturday.